Portfolio Project Detail

All That Is Solid Melts Into Air Allen Pratt, Smith Marks, Foad Faizi, and Sara Noorani

In order to embrace the lessons taught to us by the pandemic, our design prioritizes flexibility, promotes wellness, and celebrates community and togetherness.

Resiliency Through Adaptability

The pandemic has exposed our cities as a collection of rigid buildings and spaces that cannot easily or quickly adapt. We have become isolated in our homes and trapped outside of our places of work, education, and recreation—leaving us mentally and physically drained. Our solution serves as a counterpoint to the rigidity of the present system by exploring an equitable, community-centric response that gives people the power to adapt their built environment to suit the ever-evolving, unforeseen needs of the time.

Site Organization

The project is conceptualized around a generous public plaza which anchors public life, providing a new model for community-centric mixed-use developments. Flowing public spaces define the site and are based on inviting pedestrian movement. A 6’ square, now representative of safe distancing guidelines, provides the underlying framework for the site’s organization. In contrast to the large, unbroken street walls in the City of London, the new model is porous, pedestrian-scaled, and focused on public gathering. The three mixed-use buildings play an almost secondary roll to the public plaza at the heart of the development.

Flexible Environments

Public gathering is facilitated by moveable furniture and planting modules which can be organized to fit the communities’ current needs – performance venues or mobile health clinics, distanced pocket-parks or a city market. Providing community members with access to and control over these adaptable public spaces empowers individuals and combats the isolation and helplessness we have all experienced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The architecture is designed to be nimble and adaptable. Lightweight, movable partitions can create compartmentalized layouts or be quickly stowed to the exterior walls, allowing for flexible, open concepts. Exterior walls are also operable, which allows for natural ventilation and healthy interior environments. The residential units are designed with deep covered porches and landscaping. The semi-private outdoor spaces are flexible, interconnected, and generous, creating a microcosm of the public-life at play in the plaza below.